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[Editorial] Voters Should Screen Candidates

Posted March. 15, 2008 03:00,   


The nomination process by the conservative Grand National Party (GNP) and the liberal United Democratic Party (UDP) for the 18th general elections, slated for April 9, is nearing to a close. As of yesterday, the GNP has confirmed or tentatively decided 224 candidates for 245 constituencies, and 103 UDP candidates have also secured the party’s nomination tickets.

The two parties’ efforts to renew its election lineup have brought much change to the political landscape, as many influential and incumbent lawmakers were dropped from the list of candidates in Gyeongsang and Jeolla provinces. All eyes of the political circles and the nation are on which candidates failed to grab the party card and how they responded.

They seem to pay little attention to the quality and credentials of the designated candidates who will comprise the 18th National Assembly. Introducing as many new faces as possible in the party nomination does not guarantee advanced politics and national development.

All the parties in the previous governments have made drastic measures to bring in new blood into their parties in the past general elections. Such efforts have contributed to increasing the ratio of new candidates’ election as it reached 56.5 percent in the 13th general election, 39.8 percent in the 14th election, 45.8 percent in the 15th, 40.7 percent in 16th and 56.5 percent in the 17th.

Unfortunately, the numerical rise failed to improve the quality of the nation’s politics. As a result, Korea’s political maturity is still far behind the global status of the national economy, and public confidence in the politics and politicians remains at the bottom.

Selecting those who will constitute the party is more important than letting go of the current lawmakers. Despite repeated efforts to get new faces in the past general elections, the nation’s political landscape hasn’t changed because the parties have dismissed the transition as just a one-time event. It is regrettable to find not much difference in this nomination process.

As for the GNP, the process invited public concerns as it included some candidates without a clear party identity or those with problematic reputations. In general, the conservative party was accused of influence-peddling in nominations, splitting up seats between factions.

The UDP made relatively less dramatic measures to drop the incumbent representatives. However, out of the 72 incumbent lawmakers with a nomination ticket, as many as 70 came from the former Uri Party, which is responsible for the failure in state affairs along with the Roh Moo-hyun administration.

It is doubtful that such nominations can secure a reliable force to check the administration. The slogan of “reform nomination” the two parties put in front could become an empty talk.

After all, voters should sort out the less qualified and those without patriotic sentiment when they cast a ballot. If they really want to bring change in the nation’s politics, they should make their voices heard in the upcoming elections. Selecting a lawmaker by thoroughly screening each candidate’s past history and performance record is voter’s right and responsibility.

Voters should carefully examine contenders including their competence and ability to carry out political reforms and national advancement, patriotism and values such as free democracy and capitalism.

We shouldn’t spare our efforts and sincerity to pick the ones that would bear the future of Korea on their shoulders. Family, local or academic ties shouldn’t be voting criteria. By exercising their right to vote, Koreans should eliminate those who encourage ideological conflicts among the people or disregard the law and the national identity.